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NZ sharemarket ends little changed, Fletcher Building mixed

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 15 NZPA - Fletcher Building shares ended down 3c at 835 but traded as high as 846 in a weak market today on news Fletcher Construction will manage building repairs for 50,000 houses damaged in the Canterbury earthquake.

The stock had gained 19c yesterday. Fletcher Building was advised last night it won the contract to manage the Earthquake Commission's project management office for the repair of houses with damage costing between $10,000 and $100,000. It was believed that failed bidders were notified yesterday.

Fletcher Construction said the contract could be worth as much as $1.2 billion and it would be the biggest job it has ever done in New Zealand.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 6.759 points, or 0.207 percent, at 3255.846. There were 38 rises and 41 falls among the 114 stocks traded.

Otherwise, across Asia, regional markets were mostly lower following the softer United States market and ahead of key US retail sales figures tonight.

"Continuation of the weak US dollar strong commodities thematic will largely be dependent on the interpretation of tonight's speech from Ben Bernanke," Ben Potter at IG Markets said. The market is hoping that he will not only confirm recent speculation of further easing, but also provide some parameters for potential scale.

Tourism Holdings rose 2c to 91, Air NZ rose 2c to 132 and Infratil rose 1c to 180. Cavalier Carpets rose 1c to 306 and Nuplex rose 1c to 330.

Contact Energy fell 1c to 567 and SkyCity fell 1c to 288. Telecom fell 1c to 207 and NZX fell 1c to 163. Rakon fell 4c to 123 and Freightways fell 3c to 296. OceanaGold rose 5c to 510.

In the United States, banks led stocks lower as investors fretted a widening foreclosure crisis could undermine the market's strength of the past five weeks.

The Dow Jones industrial average dipped 0.01 percent to 11,094.57, the Standard & Poor's 500 dropped 0.4 percent to 1173.81, and the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.2 percent to 2435.38.

All 50 US states are investigating the mortgage industry, and investors are growing concerned it will hurt bank earnings.

But some say the foreclosure issues, which have been brewing for weeks, were being used as an excuse for investors to pull back from the solid gains since the beginning of September.

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